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How ChatGPT will impact Search Marketing | Varn’s View

2nd February 2023

ChatGPT has gained a lot of coverage in the news over the past month and for good reason. This new language model chatbot developed by OpenAI has the chance to revolutionise SEO and digital marketing. 

ChatGPT’s growth has been phenomenal, hitting 1 million users in just 5 days, (according to Greg Brockman, President and Co-Founder of OpenAI). It’s fascinating to compare this adoption rate to other revolutionary technologies (which you can see below), for example Instagram, took 2.5 months to get to the same user level.

We thought it would be useful to share some of the team’s thoughts on the new software and what our approach will be to using it in 2023. We will cover its full impact on search marketing covering Varn’s 4 key service lines for delivering ‘full service SEO’. 

What is ChatGPT? 

Before we get into its impact on search marketing, let’s provide a bit of background on the software and why it is causing such a stir. 

ChatGPT has taken the digital marketing world by storm over the last month and many have started to incorporate it into their content development strategy, using it to contribute to articles and other forms of content be it writing video scripts and coming up with blog ideas. 

So what is ChatGPT? Well let’s see what the software has to say for itself….

“ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI that uses deep learning to generate human-like text. It is trained on a large dataset of text and can be fine-tuned for specific tasks such as language translation, question answering, and text summarization. ChatGPT can generate text that is similar to that written by a human and is often used in chatbots and other natural language processing applications.”

Impact on Technical SEO

As far as Technical SEO goes, ChatGPT could potentially help streamline the process of optimising websites. 

One important element of Technical SEO is a website’s navigation. It is important that the navigation makes sense to users and has a clear hierarchy. Historically this has always been something that takes a reasonable amount of time to manually review. However, an advanced machine learning algorithm like GPT should be able to think similarly to a human and predict what a user of a website would expect from the site’s navigation. For example, it is possible that GPT would be able to review your site navigation, and suggest which content should be moved to make more sense from a user and hierarchical point of view. The resulting recommendations are still something that should be manually reviewed by an SEO professional, but it could potentially save a reasonable amount of time.

Another much more dubious technique, (one that we would not recommend), is that people could use ChatGPT for Tech SEO in order to create content related to your target keywords. In order to get a page to rank on Google, it helps to have a decent amount of body copy on the page, copy which is focused on the keywords you want to rank for. Using ChatGPT to generate this content could potentially help to get a site ranking more quickly, whilst making content creation easier for your website admin. However, there are a number of problems with this approach. Firstly, AI generated content goes against Google’s guidelines. This means that if Google were to identify your content as AI generated then they could potentially penalise your rankings. 

It’s interesting to note that ChatGPT has been working to add a watermark to its generated content so that AI generated copy can be identified more easily. This watermark would be difficult to remove as it is a statistical pattern that is embedded into individual words or even punctuation marks within the generated content. This watermark is another potential way for Google to recognise that the copy hasn’t been manually produced, which again could lead to penalisation. There is also no guarantee that another user will never be presented with the same AI generated content, thus also leading to potential issues with duplicate content.

Impact on Content and Digital PR 

When it comes to digital PR and content, the software seems to have a lot of potential applications, but for now at least, human insights, input and creativity will be needed to create content that gets cut through online. 

Some of the potential applications when it comes to content assistance include: 

  • Coming up with content titles 
  • Coming up with video and podcast scripts 
  • Developing content subtitles 
  • A multiple range of research tasks 

The above is not an exhaustive list, but it is an exciting time for those in content marketing and digital as we see more sophisticated AI tools come to market which should get better over time. 

It’s vital not to forget that from an SEO perspective, Google states on it’s website that when a user enters a query, their machines search the index for matching pages and return the results they believe are the highest quality and most relevant to the user’s query. 

The big question is whether Google thinks bot created content is the highest quality, and we would suggest that it probably isn’t yet. Therefore we have a note of caution – be careful of any agency who says they are going to use ChatGPT to get you to the top of Google. They are most likely seeing ChatGPT as a shortcut/cheat to generating content, rather than a legitimate way to create ‘the highest quality content’. This may obviously change in time though. 

Under it’s ‘Google Search Essentials’ page, Google states under its ‘Key best practice’:

“While there are many things you can do to improve your site’s SEO, there are a few core practices that can have the most impact on your web content’s ranking and appearance on Google Search.”

The first is ‘Create helpful, reliable, people-first content.’ When expanding on this Google states:

‘Google’s automated ranking systems are designed to present helpful, reliable information that’s primarily created to benefit people, not to gain search engine rankings, in the top Search results.’ 

Our recommendation if you are involved in Search Marketing, keep up to date with the latest developments and trends emerging with ChatGPT, but importantly spend time making sure you comply with the advice from Google about content which you can find here.

Impact on Paid Search and Social  

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Automated Bidding, Smart Shopping, Performance Max. It’s been proven that we can combine a strategic human touch with the power of automation to enhance performance marketing.   

Two areas of research needed before running a paid campaign are the keywords you choose to bid on and the messaging you put in your ads. This will determine who sees your ads and the likelihood of them clicking and converting. ChatGPT can be very useful as a starting point for both of these areas. It can offer up fresh ideas in an unbiased way.

Keyword Research

  • Really useful tool to use alongside Google keyword planner. ChatGPT can look for some top keywords for new or existing campaigns. Can come up with new and different terms for similar products. 
  • ChatGPT also provides search volume for each keyword if requested which is really useful when deciding which keywords are worth adding into your campaign. 

Ad Copy Research 

  • ChatGPT can provide insightful headlines and description recommendations for a variety of topics. Even when asked for headlines with high CTR, it provided really good recommendations in less than 2 or 3 minutes. It could be a very useful tool if launching a campaign with a quick turnaround time. Certainly it could help with streamlining the campaign build process if needed. 
  • One downside of this is that it can’t factor in target audiences and the message you may want to convey in your ads. But for additional headlines outside of company USPs and key messaging, it’s really useful. 

Whilst ChatGPT does provide really high quality content to use for campaigns, it may not be as high quality and personal as a person writing that copy, with a touch of human insight and copywriting flair. As a human, and not an AI, we are able to factor in elements such as USPs, brand knowledge, target demographics and audience that you would want to appeal to in the ad copy. However, ChatGPT is certainly a good starting point for generating ad copy and keyword research. 

Impact on Data Analytics and Reporting 

Data Analytics and Reporting is one of the most important areas of search marketing. If you don’t have adequate reporting setup, you are not able to evaluate how your strategies are performing and which strategies you should push for going forward.

One way a machine learning service like ChatGPT could be useful for Data Analytics is as a provider of information. Not only can you ask GPT questions and get a concise answer, you can also add a correction or modifier to that question after the fact, and GPT is smart enough to understand. For example, here we asked about how to track a certain metric in Looker Studio, and after not being satisfied with the answer, were able to quickly modify our request without retyping the original question.

Varn: How do I track average page views in Looker Studio

GPT: To track average page views in Looker Studio, you will need to use a score card. First, create a blank report from the Looker Studio home screen. Then, use the formula box to type in ‘Views/Sessions’ and save the calculated field. Finally, add the score card to your report. You will then be able to track your average page views.

Varn: No, I meant as a graph

GPT: To create a graph of average page views in Looker Studio, you will need to use a line chart. First, create a blank report from the Looker Studio home screen. Then, use the formula box to type in ‘Views/Sessions’ and save the calculated field. Next, select your metrics and dimensions and add a new chart. Finally, add the line chart to your report. You will then be able to track your average page views in a visual graph format.

This ability for ChatGPT to condense complex information into simple text format allows us to treat the service like a co-pilot when working out tricky problems in analytics software.

ChatGPT and your Search Marketing Strategy 

Our view is that ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach search marketing, but at the moment it should be seen as a useful place to start to help you to quickly and conveniently curate information. We think it’s critical to remember that whilst ChatGPT is a great tool, (and will only get better), you need to use it as a starting point or springboard for creating content. 

The value of excellence in search marketing deliverables, will always come by adding in the human touch.

Having an understanding of your company’s tone of voice, what works with the audience and an in-depth understanding of what you are looking to achieve is essential. This is the human bit that AI and robots simply can’t replicate. 

ChatGPT will be unable to grasp the intricacies and nuances of human behaviour and responses. As people we can inherently tap into the very unique asset of our 5 senses, to ensure any AI generated content is then made relevant, engaging and meaningful. Our view is that the human power of creativity, innovative ideas and strategic understanding make content, ads and SEO insights impactful and actionable, and will always trump a ‘cut and paste’ of AI generated content. In addition, we know that for successful long-term SEO strategy, it’s critical to understand your competition and to have a clear strategy. ChatGPT will only be helpful up to a point for this… we liken it to having a football-playing robot. They’ll only be helpful if they are told what team to play on!

Our recommendation is to now let’s carefully watch this space. The search marketing landscape may well evolve and change quickly and with Microsoft reportedly to add ChatGPT to it’s Bing search engine, it’s worth keeping your eyes out for what happens to Bing market share, and Google’s response to this immediate challenge

Finally, if you are interested ChatGPT’s opinion about how it will influence search marketing, this is what it ‘thinks’….

“Its advanced natural language processing capabilities can help businesses to create high-quality, unique content and improve their search engine rankings. Additionally, ChatGPT can also be used to create chatbots that can provide faster and more efficient customer service, helping businesses to improve the user experience and increase customer satisfaction. As the capabilities of ChatGPT continue to evolve, it is likely that we will see even more ways in which it can be used to improve search marketing and other areas of business.”

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About Varn

Varn is an expert & specialist SEO search marketing agency. Technical SEO * AI & Data Analytics * Offsite SEO * Paid Search

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